Thursday, December 20, 2007
No, excuse you!
My son has autism
Kids with autism do random things
It is what it is
I am at my son's speech therapy center which is for kids with autism and they treat all sorts of disorders there. It is not Chuckie Cheese or Gymboree. It is what it is.
My son happens to be in a very good mood today. This means very hyper and friendly. This also means going up to strangers and giving them hugs and getting really up close in their face to look at them. It's called, stimming.
While waiting he is all over the place, climbing on chairs, going up to people, smiling, having a good ole time. He sees a woman with a stroller as she is attempting to exit the room. He jets over there ,before I can even jet out of my chair, and jams himself in between the door and the stroller.
Clearly he wanted to purposely annoy this woman right? He purposely wanted to be a pain. Not the case but you would have thunk it by the way this mom reacted. She started screaming. Screaming! like my son had hurt her daughter! all the while he is smiling and trying to get a good look at the cute little girl in the stroller who is saying "hiiiiiiiii". She screams "ExCUUUUSe me, ExCUUUUSe me" several times. This was all a matter of seconds but I made it as she was pushing her stroller out the door at any cost and all I could manage was a trailing " He DOESNT understand" as she fumed off rolling her eyes.
Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, my son innocently wanted to take a look at your little girl. Sorry he did such a horrible thing. Saying "excuse me" to a boy with autism is going to make him say "oh shoot, yes, of course, what was I thinking running into you" . Really. Yeah, that works.
A half hour goes by and my son happily comes out of speech. As I finish getting the details of his session from his teacher he runs to another little girl. This one a little older than him. She has some sort of disorder and looks paralyzed somewhat into her wheelchair. I jet behind him but he is just so much faster than I. He tries to touch her eyes and succeeds. He was not hurting her, just touching her eyes. Is it the right thing to do? no. Is it a pleasant thing to feel someone do to you? not really. Is it a devilish thing to do? I don't think so. Not if the "attacker" weighs no more than 40 pounds and has the biggest smile on his face as he says "baby" which is what he calls all little kids. I sternly call out to him not to touch but wait, the girls' father gives him round 2 of "Excuse me! Excuse me!" After I take my son's hands away, apologize to the man and tell my son "Do not touch" I turn around to the father and manage to say " He does not know not to touch. He does not understand it". He also rolled his eyes and continued talking to the woman next to him as I walked away.
Once in the car I fumed at both of these incidents. I understand this man was upset at the world. I have been there. I have plenty of bad days but screaming at a little boy at a center where it is obvious every single child has some kind of issue is just ridiculous to me. I would never do such a thing. In this center, out of all places, I am thee most accepting, embracing and understanding person to all the kids I encounter. My heart always breaks when I see them walk through those doors. Why? because like I said, it's not Gymboree or Chuckie Cheese. They are not there for fun. They are there because of a problem (s).
I cannot tell you how many times kids have come up to my son to take away his toy or to do something similar. It is what it is, it is what some do. I have never screamed at them. In fact, before I even direct any words to the other kids I look for the parent who I am sure is running huffing and puffing behind them. When that's not the case then with a smile and in a non accusing way, I reposition my son or retrieve the toy and say something like " no no" or "you want to play?" If a parent apologizes I simply say "don't worry about it". That's it. No drama, no screaming, no nastyness. Is that so hard?
In hindsight, I wish I could have said to both "No, exCUUUUSE You! Excuse you for not understanding that he did not mean to overstep his boundaries, that if he is doing such an odd thing and is at a center that is mainly for autism then it must be because he has autism or something wrong with him. Excuse you for not seeing that I was right behind him and not hiding behind a magazine ignoring his behavior. Instead I was rushing behind him to make sure everything would be ok. "
Come on now.